As Islamic hatred of dogs are criticized in the West, some people are trying to say that Allah didn’t command to hate dogs, but it comes from hadiths. In fact, Muhammad’s commands in hadiths regarding dogs do not necessarily differ from Allah’s; and if they do, it’s perfectly within the power Allah ordained upon Muhammad as equal partner in setting Islamic laws.
Dogs are a wonderful creature. Dogs easily bond with humans, they protect them, and have likely served them since man appeared on the earth. Dogs are being kept as loving pets by non-Muslim people all over the world.
Yet, dogs have a dark place in Islamic society. Dogs are considered unclean, and Islamic angels do not enter as house that has a dog. Islam also recognizes certain types of dogs as “devil”, and orders that Muslims must kill such dogs.
Dogs are, thus, a despised creature in the Islamic world? Islamic traditions prohibit petting of dogs in Muslim homes. Even a “Muslim” taxi driver in America would not allow a blind person and his guide dog into his cab.
The question is: Does it make any sense that Islam would despise this lovely, faithful and friendly animal? Does it make sense that Allah would create this wonderful animal only to be hated so intensely by the followers of His religion?
These are questions that would baffle non-Muslims. And the Islamic hatred of dogs has often come for criticism by people in the West.Under this situation, some moderate Muslims are claiming that the Islamic hatred of dogs originate exclusively from hadiths, i.e. from the traditions of the prophet of Islam, which may have been fabricated or, at least, are not divine commandments of Allah. Here are a few such hadiths that show dogs in bad light.
1. Dogs reduces good deeds of Muslims
Narrated Abu Huraira: “Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever keeps a dog, one Qirat of the reward of his good deeds is deducted daily, unless the dog is used for guarding a farm or cattle.” Abu Huraira (in another narration) said from the Prophet, “unless it is used for guarding sheep or farms, or for hunting.” Narrated Abu Hazim from Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “A dog for guarding cattle or for hunting.””
2. Dogs spoil prayers
a) Bukhari Vol. 1, #490:
Narrated ‘Aisha: “he things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, “Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people).” I said, “You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away, for I disliked to face him.””
b) Abu Dawud Number 704:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: Ikrimah reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas, saying: I think the Apostle of Allah said: When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a Jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer, but it will suffice if they pass in front of him at a distance of over a stone’s throw.
3. Angels don’t enter a house having dogs
a) Bukhari 3:515:
Narrated Abu Huraira: “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying; “Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature (a human being or an animal).””
b) Sahih Muslim 5246:
Narrated ‘Aisha: “Gabriel made a promise with Allah’s Messenger to come at a definite hour; that hour came but he did not visit him. And there was in his hand (in the hand of Allah’s Apostle) a staff. He threw it from his hand and said: Never has Allah or His messengers (angels) ever broken their promise. Then he cast a glance (and by chance) found a puppy under his cot and said: Aisha, when did this dog enter here? She said: By Allah, I don’t know. He then commanded and it was turned out. Then Gabriel came and Allah’s Messenger said to him: You promised me and I waited for you, but you did not come, whereupon he said: It was the dog in your house which prevented me (to come), for we (angels) do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.”
4. Kill the Dogs
a) Sahih Muslim 5248:
Narrated Maymunah: “One morning Allah’s Messenger was silent with grief. Maymunah said: Allah’s Messenger, I find a change in your mood today. Allah’s Messenger said: Gabriel had promised me that he would meet me last night, but he did not meet me. By Allah, he never broke his promises; and Allah’s Messenger spent the day in this sad (mood). Then it occurred to him that there had been a puppy under their cot. He gave an order and it was turned out. He then took some water in his hand and sprinkled it on the place. When it was evening Gabriel met him and he said to him: You promised me that you would meet me the previous night. He said: Yes, but we do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture. So the very next morning he commanded the dogs to be killed. He announced that the dog kept for the orchards should also be killed, but he spared the dog used for the protection of extensive fields (or big gardens).”
b) Malik’s Muwatta, Book 54, Number 54.5.13:
“Malik related from Nafi from Abdullah Ibn Umar that the Messenger of God ordered all dogs (other than sheepdogs or hunting dogs) to be killed”.
c) Hanbal 4/85; 5/54:
The Messenger of God said: “You shall kill all black dogs; because they are devils.”
Dog’s in positive light in Allah’s eyes
While Prophet Muhammad and angels of Islam deem dogs as unclean, evil and even worth being killed, Allah apparently does not give such harsh assessment of dogs.
1. In the Quran
Allah makes a few mentions of dogs in the Quran, especially in Surah Kahf (The Cave, Surah 18).
“You would think that they were awake, when they were in fact asleep. We turned them to the right side and the left side, while their dog stretched his arms in the entrance.”
Here, Allah talks of a few people, who took refuse in a cave, because they were being forced by their opponents to pray to other Gods than Allah. And Allah saved them by giving them refuge in a cave and keeping them asleep for 309 years. And Allah is saying: their dogs guarded the entrance of the cave over all those years.Next, ayah 18:22 also makes mention of dog as part of these believers:”Some would say, they were three; their dog being the fourth, while others would say, Five; the sixth being their dog, as they guessed. Others said, seven, and the eighth was their dog. Say, My Lord is the best knower of their number. Therefore, do not argue with them; just go along with them. You need not consult anyone about this.”
2. In the Hadith
Narrated Abu Huraira: “Allah’s Apostle said, “A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.””
Here, Allah suggests that showing mercy to dogs can be a good deed that may wipe out all sins even of a prostitute. Also in verse 5:4, Allah indirectly suggests that dogs can be used for hunting.
So, it seems that Muhammad and Allah had different perspectives of dogs. Or that’s what some moderate Muslims have started claiming.Is that really so?
In the verses cited above, Allah just makes mention of a dog that kept guard of the cave in which believers had taken refuge. And Muhammad also had similar ideas about dogs, when they were of use. He allowed keeping dogs for guarding and hunting purposes. He only didn’t like black dogs, which Muslims must do away with.
In the olden days, dogs were very useful as guards, especially for alerting owners when thieves or strangers approached the owner’s house at night time. And Muhammad, like Allah, saw value to this usefulness of dogs, and appreciated the service.
In today’s world, especially in urban areas, dogs are not useful for guarding homes. There, people pet dogs as a loving animal, as a companion or friend. This is what is not allowed in Islam, because dogs spoil prayers and reduces believers’ good deed.
Islam stands on two pillars: 1) Commandments of Allah as enshrined in the Quran, and 2) Commands, actions and deeds of Prophet Muhammad.
In more than a dozen verses (3:32; 4:13,59,69; 5:92; 8:1,20,46; 9:71; 24:47,51–52,54,56; 33:33; 47:33; 49:14; 58:13; 64:12), the Quran commands Muslims to follow Allah and His Apostle (i.e. Muhammad). So, the commands, deeds, and actions of Prophet Muhammad are no less important in Islam than Allah’s commands and precepts in the Quran.
And on the question of dogs, Allah and Prophet Muhammad have similar ideas. Allah makes a mention of dogs acting as guard for believers as well as for hunting pray for food. Prophet Muhammad also appreciated the same, and recommended the use of dogs for the same purposes.Other than that dogs are undesirable as per Prophet Muhammad such as for petting as companion etc., because they have other harmful effects, although Allah does not make any mention of them.
When Allah and Prophet Muhammad are of the same importance in Islam, then the believers have no other option but to keep dogs only for hunting and guarding purposes. Beyond that, they just have to despise dogs, even kill black dogs, and they certainly can’t keep a dog as a loving companion or pet.
And this is in perfect harmony with Islamic ideals. Allah and Prophet Muhammad are of equal importance in Islam, which Allah Himself repeatedly reminded in so many verses. So, where Allah is silent or obscure, the Prophet’s commands, actions and deeds become the Law.
So, concerning the Islamic treatment of dogs, Muhammad didn’t play lordship over Allah as some moderate Muslims want to portray. It’s within the power and privilege by Allah ordained to Muhammad.